I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman
Published by Legend Press on March 1, 2013
Source: the author
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For Jeff Brennan, juggling multiple identities is a way of life. Online he has dozens of different personalities and switches easily between them. Offline, he shows different faces to different people: the caring grandson, the angry eco-protester, the bored IT consultant.
So when the beautiful Marie mistakes him for a famous blogger, he thinks nothing of adding this new identity to his repertoire. But as they fall in love and start building a life together, Jeff is gradually forced into more and more desperate measures to maintain his new identity, and the boundaries between his carefully segregated personas begin to fray.
In a world where truth is a matter of perspective and identities are interchangeable, Jeff finds himself trapped in his own web of lies. How far will he go to maintain his secrets? And even if he wanted to turn back, would he be able to?
I don’t have different personas online. I do have separate Twitter and Facebook accounts for this blog, but my Twitter account for the blog is only slightly more professional than my personal account. My social networking worlds collide all the time and I’m okay with that. What you see is what you get. I don’t feel the need to put on a different face for family, friends, and the other people I interact with on a daily basis. I’ve never felt the need to do that.
Andrew Blackman’s A Virtual Love shows what can happen when someone decides to have multiple online identities. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who do this and it works out just fine. It doesn’t work out for Jeff Brennan, though, and his life becomes a mess both online and off. (Well, I guess it could be said that it worked out in the end, but not in an honest way.)
Jeff Brennan has this really boring job in IT at a law firm. In his spare time he hangs out with a friend on Skype on Saturday nights, visits his grandparents every Sunday, and attends various pro-environment protests set up by another friend. During one of these protests he meets Marie, who mistakes him for a very popular political blogger (they share the same name). This very popular political blogger is a private person and has never shown a photo of himself online. He doesn’t leave his apartment. Because no one knows what he looks like or who he really is, it seems easy for IT Jeff to take over his identity in order to woo the girl.
Things happen and IT Jeff finds out that it’s not so easy pretending to be a big political blogger. It takes a lot of work and sneaking around. IT’S HARD TO BE DISHONEST, YO. As always, it would be much easier to just be honest and take things from there. But that isn’t what IT Jeff does. And now he has to deal with the consequences.
A Virtual Love has an interesting format. Every chapter is told from the first-person POV, but by a different character in the story each time. The chapters switch back and forth from Jeff to Jeff’s grandfather to Marie to Jeff’s friends and so on. I wasn’t sure this was going to work at first. How do I know which character is speaking if the only reference is “I”? But Blackman makes it work by ensuring that the character says something within the first few sentences of each chapter to let the reader know who is doing the talking. I actually grew to like this format quite a bit because it’s different and I like that each character gets to tell their own part in the story (as opposed to some omniscient someone telling their parts).
A Virtual Love isn’t a book that I would have picked up on my own, but I’m glad I accepted a review copy from Blackman. It was a pretty good book that posed the questions that people on social networks are constantly discussing: Do our online personas represent who we really are, or what we want people to believe about us? Is it possible for an online identity to take over and change who we really are? Is that a good or a bad thing? In this digital age, we’re bound to hear more and more stories about things like this happening.
If you’re interested in reading a story about multiple online personalities gone wrong, I recommend Andrew Blackman’s A Virtual Love.